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WASHINGTON – Independent civil society monitoring of the annual cotton harvest in Uzbekistan found that in 2023, local officials “resorted to forced labour” in districts with a shortage of voluntary pickers. This included forcing employees of several state organsations to pick cotton or pay for a replacement picker. The findings are a damaging blow for Uzbekistan’s cotton industry.

As recently as 2022, the Cotton Campaign ended its call for fashion brands and retailers to boycott Uzbek cotton. The boycott was launched in 2009 due to the use of forced and child labour in Uzbekistan’s annual cotton harvest.

At that time, the Uzbek Forum for Human Rights, a partner of the Cotton Campaign, released its annual report finding no central government-imposed forced labour in the 2021 harvest. These findings were mirrored by those of the ILO’s independent monitoring committee.

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